Maybe it's kind of a dick move to give this a 4.5 star review after giving the last book I read that was simply Very Good (not fantastic like most of my 5 star books) a full 5 stars.
This book did still fall into the same trap of simply being Very Good, not fantastic. Maybe I've just read so many fantastic books that I'm burned out and have unrealistic expectations. Unlike that previous book though (Archivist Wasp, if you're curious), this book DID have something I disliked. Hence, the difference between giving a 5 star review for being Very Good and knocking off a half star. Sorry :(
Lots of other reviewers discuss plot and characters, so go ahead and check those out. I'm not going to rehash the same stuff in my reviews unless there's something specific I want to praise or criticize. And unfortunately, this Very Good book doesn't have anything specific like that. The plot was very good, the world building was very good, magic, characters, blah blah ... it really was all Very Good! But not better than that.
Anyway. What I do want to discuss is the representation and the slight use of the Bury Your Gays trope with a side character. SPOILER: Jude, a main POV MC, has sexual and romantic feelings for one of his guards, Hector. It had so much good good chosen one x bodyguard vibes, and then it got all fucked up because Hector dies, even after he decided to be a better person and spare an innocent life. I'm really mad about it. I do say "slight" bury your gays though, because Hector isn't technically confirmed to be mlm? The descriptions of his teenager years with Jude are super homoerotic and it's clear there COULD be something there, but Jude never confesses anything and we never get any actual proof Hector isn't straight. That in itself assumes straight is the default though unless someone explicitly says otherwise, sooo. It's all just a gross complicated mess. Add into that another possible LI (imo, there's very slight vibes there that Jude could POSSIBLY get involved with another male character), and it seems like Hector was killed off just to make way for this other guy?? idk the whole situation wasn't good, and I was left mad at it by the end of the book. And ending a book mad is enough for me to knock off half a star *shrug emoji*
Oh, just to clarify (technically still a spoiler I guess but not at all by much, you find this info out pretty much as soon as you get this character's POV): Jude is the LGBT main character. He never uses a specific label, but he's mlm. I'm tagging this as gay just because his attraction to men is the only time he's attracted to anyone. Including that because lots of times you'll see reviews talk about an LGBT main character and then refuse to say anything else, like there's just one person out there constantly fluctuating through all the identities at once throughout the book lol